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Two-Day MotoGP Test Ends at Jerez With Honda Riders, Including Lorenzo, Fast

LCR Honda rider Takaaki Nakagami surprised with the quickest lap of the test.

The final MotoGP test of 2018 was completed earlier today at the Jerez circuit. Good weather both days saw some very quick times. Just like the Valencia test last week, this test saw several riders, both rookies and veterans, adapting to their new motorcycles for 2019. The most celebrated of those riders was three-time MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo, who was still becoming familiar with his new Honda after moving away from the Ducati team two weeks ago.

Unlike his transition to Ducati from Yamaha in 2016, Lorenzo was quickly up to speed, and quite quick, on his new bike. Indeed, the idea that Marc Marquez is the only rider who could go fast on a Honda was dispelled at Jerez, not only by Lorenzo, but by LCR Honda rider Takaaki Nakagami, who posted the quickest time over the two-day session after moving to a newer model Honda prototype (still one year behind the bikes tested by Marquez and Lorenzo) … very close to the outright lap record at Jerez. In all, Honda ended up with three of the five quickest times — Marquez in third, and Lorenzo in fifth.

Lorenzo’s best time was less than 1/2 second off pole position for the Jerez MotoGP race earlier this year.  His comfort level on his new Honda is a far cry from the miserable start he had at Ducati.

The other quick bikes consisted largely of Ducatis and Yamahas, although Valentino Rossi could only manage 11th position. The quickest Yamahas were Maverick Viñales in fourth and Franco Morbidelli in sixth. Morbidelli has been quick on his new Yamaha since first throwing a leg over it last week in Valencia. Morbidelli is considered a great talent, and potential MotoGP champion, although he struggled on a satellite Honda when he first entered the MotoGP classification last year.

Take a look here for the combined times over the two days. After a holiday break, the riders will convene at Sepang for the next test on February 6 through 8, 2019.


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38 Comments

  1. Ralph says:

    Jeremy, why is it that the little guys only became dominant after the electronics were introduced?

    “Everyone who watches MotoGP has watched Marquez lift a motorcycle sliding on its side off the deck and continue riding as if he had meant to do that.”

    That is not the type of situation I was referring too.

    “I can’t ever recall a time when I saved a crash because of weight or strength.”

    This proves my point. You do lack understanding of riding a motorcycle. You have never been in a situation when you have had to use all of your strength and use your bodyweight as a counterweight to control a bucking and weaving bike that is trying to spit you off. Maybe you have but crashed because you don’t have the skill to save it. And you have never used your bodyweight as a counterweight to make a bike drift or stop it from drifting.

    It seems that you, like many, have spent your whole life falsely believing that you are a good rider without even understanding what others can do on a bike.

    My reason for commenting is because I am very disappointed with what MotoGP has become. From my point of view it is no longer real motorcycle racing because the riders have electronics doing much of the essential work. They are not fully controlling the bikes like riders did before. If you think it is still real motorcycle racing, that is your problem, and I think you are gullible. I won’t be watching it anymore because I can see that the bikes are not behaving naturally. They are partly controlled by computers. And that takes the excitement out of it.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      Ralph, don’t be so presumptuous. I never claimed I was a good rider. In fact, I intended to imply the opposite. But I do know how to ride, however poorly that may be. I pretty much ride only enduro now with some occasional ice and flat track stuff, so I get the whole body English thing.

      Yes, at the limit, controlling the bike can be a bear and demand a lot from the rider physically. I didn’t mean to say that you don’t need strength to maintain control. What I’m saying is that small riders possess all of the strength they need to do this and that being a “big” rider offers no material advantage in this regard.

      I am not so sure about your assertion that big riders once dominated before the electronic age, either. Except for Rossi, who isn’t exactly big weight-wise, IMO, I don’t remember a time when big riders dominated. And Rossi dominated because he was elite in ability, not because he was tall. Rainey, Schwantz, Doohan, Spencer, the two Kenny’s… All those guys were 5’10 or less if I’m not mistaken.

      But even if the ascent of the small rider in the electronic age were true… if you follow MotoGP, you have had the opportunity to listen to or read multiple interviews (some of which you can surely still find on Google) and have the riders themselves tell exactly what the advantage of being small is: fuel consumption, and to a lesser extent, tire consumption. Less weight, less height = less of that preciously small fuel allowance burned up before the ECU starts dialing back the power.

  2. Hot Dog says:

    Franko looks like he’s in a good situation to expand upon his potential.

  3. Rick says:

    Jorge wasn’t allowed to test the Ducati at Jerez in 2016, so so-called comparisons to his transition from Yamaha to Ducati and Ducati to Honda is pretty much nonsense.

    • Dirck Edge says:

      ? This is his second test on the Honda. Was he running this competitively on his Ducati after a year of testing and racing it?

    • Neil Devine says:

      Look at Valentino. He would ride the wheels off the Honda but not the Ducati. Stoner flew on the Honda. I’d love to see Marquez try ten laps on the Ducati. I was hoping Lorenzo would get up to speed quickly. They should give Takaakisan the same bike too.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      Lorenzo had a year and a half to test the Ducati before he was competitive on it.

    • joe b says:

      Rick, look at what your saying? Jeremy is right, it took Lorenzo a year and a half to get up to speed on the Ducati. This is similar to when Stoner came to Honda, and it was like him putting on an old shoe, he was fast out of the box. Same here with Lorenzo. Why is the Ducati so fast one week, then mid pack the next? Its fast, for sure. Why no one is criticizing, or crediting Rossi, i dont know. Next year will be fantastic racing, cant wait.

    • 5229 says:

      Rick, look how long it took Lorenzo to be competitive on the Ducati. And Rossi never was at all in his Ducati years. Finally look how long it took Dovi to be fast on the Ducati. It appears its not the Honda that is hard to go fast on, but the Ducati. The numbers don’t lie.

  4. bmbktmracer says:

    Marquez is a legend in the making. Not sure how anyone can watch that guy and consider his era “boring”. Was it boring when Agostini, Roberts, Stoner, and Rossi were doing their thing? Marquez has elevated the field and doesn’t run away with races any longer. I think it’s fascinating to watch him find new ways to beat people.

    • Fred_M. says:

      “Was it boring when Agostini, Roberts, Stoner, and Rossi were doing their thing?”

      They weren’t “doing their thing” with electronic rider aids. They were turning their wrists and directly opening up butterflies on explosive 2-strokes that would spit you off in an instant if you looked at them wrong. They weren’t riding around on bikes with traction control, wheelie control, launch control, and seamless transmissions.

      There’s no question that Marquez is very, very good. But I’d love to put him on a GP500 2-stroke and have him go at it with Rossi on the same bike — even though Rossi is well past his prime.

      • bmbktmracer says:

        Wouldn’t you agree that champions are timeless and that whether you move them forward in time or back in time, they’d still be at or near the top? Their combination of physical skill, intelligence, toughness, ability to communicate with engineers, and a strong distaste for losing makes them special. Move MM back in time and Roberts would have his hands full. Move Roberts ahead in time and MM wouldn’t be dominating. They all deserve respect and discounting their achievements because of “rider aids” isn’t fair at all.

        • mickey says:

          I agree 100% bmbktmracer

          All those guys, Ago, Roberts, Sheen, Surtees, Rossi, Lawson, Doohan,Spencer and Marquez are special and have special skills which include not only physical skills beyond their peers, but also an intense desire to win and adamant refusal to lose.

          Imagine a race with all of those guys on the same bikes.. whoeeee what a brawl that would be.

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          Couldn’t agree more myself. The bikes can still be backed into corners, drift both wheels, tuck the front and high side. Racing is safer now, and in my opinion better. The rider aids don’t do anything to level the playing field so to speak. The electronics just give riders new boundaries to push, and the top riders will go where the others just can’t regardless of how manual the bikes are.

          • Ralph says:

            “The rider aids don’t do anything to level the playing field so to speak.”

            Jeremy, you are demonstrating your lack of understanding of riding a motorcycle. When pushing the limits situations arise where a rider can use their strength and body weight to prevent crashing. The electronics now used in MotoGP minimize the number of times those situations occur. This takes away the advantage that larger riders had. Now the smaller riders have an advantage because of less weight. Haven’t you noticed that the little guys only became dominant after the introduction of the electronics? Rossi has won the title on a ferocious 2-stroke without electronic assistance, but he truly is one of the greatest MotoGP riders ever.

            Maybe they should fit electronic guidance systems to golf balls. The players would still need skill to get the right distance, but the balls would never go astray. To gullible spectators it would appear that golfers were playing better than ever. But, just like MotoGP, it wouldn’t be real anymore.

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            “Jeremy, you are demonstrating your lack of understanding of riding a motorcycle.”

            Nobody is ever going to pay me to race motorcycles… I’ll give you that. But I know my way around them pretty well. Electronics were just coming on to the scene as I was losing interest in the track stuff, but I do have some experience on both aided and manual bikes. I’m not just forming my opinion from vapor.

            “When pushing the limits situations arise where a rider can use their strength and body weight to prevent crashing. […] This takes away the advantage that larger riders had.”

            Pure nonsense. Now I think you are demonstrating your lack of understanding of riding a motorcycle. Everyone who watches MotoGP has watched Marquez lift a motorcycle sliding on its side off the deck and continue riding as if he had meant to do that. And that’s not a one-off. Apparently, the little guys can handle the weight of the bikes and take advantage of body positioning just fine.

            I’ve ridden fast stuff for a long time. I can’t ever recall a time when I saved a crash because of weight or strength. Form, concentration, reflex, and keeping calm it what does it.

            I agree with you on one thing. Rossi is one of the greatest ever.

          • TimC says:

            Er Mr. Ralph,

            “The electronics now used in MotoGP minimize the number of times those situations occur” – and which rider has – by far – the highest count of these situations? And what percent of them are saves vs crashes?

          • VLJ says:

            Marquez is clearly an all-time great. To argue otherwise is asinine.

            That being said, he would not be able to ride with the same reckless abandon were it not for the electronics nannies helping to keep him upright. Yes, he saves a lot of crashes, but he would absolutely crash and not save it a lot more often were he to continue riding the way he does now without the benefit of the electronic safety net.

            This is true of all other riders in this era, as well, obviously. All one has to do is recall the 2013 race at Aragon, when Marquez rammed into Dani’s bike from behind, immediately disabling the traction control system on Dani’s Repsol Honda. Sans that safety net, and unaware of the issue at hand, Dani applied the throttle as usual and was immediately highsided to the moon.

            Who knows how Marquez would have handled daily life as a GP rider in an era without the electronic safety net? I assume he would have adopted to it and managed it, just as everyone else back then was forced to manage it. Still, he definitely would have crashed even more often than he already does, and, due to the additional highsides he would have experienced, he likely would have been injured a lot more frequently and severely.

            Compare this to how he currently operates. The very end of this season was the first time in his MotoGP career that he suffered even the slightest debilitating injury. Considering how frequently he crashes, this is truly remarkable, until you realize that nearly all of his crashes are of the much less physically damaging, gentle slide-out variety, the vast majority of which see him immediately hopping up to chase after his low-sided bike skittering through the gravel.

            Have to give Marc his due, though. In the same era of electronic nannies that saw Lorenzo and Dani and nearly every other MotoGP rider highsided to eternity during various wet races, Marc has deftly avoided such calamities. So, yes, some of that is definitely down to his unique skill, which would have translated in any era.

        • Ralph says:

          Maybe Marquez is a great rider. Maybe not. But he will never prove himself to me unless he does it without computer assistance.

          • Dirck Edge says:

            Have you seen him beat the American flat track champ on a dirt oval … without “computer assistance’?

          • Dave says:

            Everyone likes to believe their’s was the “greatest generation”.

          • Ralph says:

            Dirck, that doesn’t prove he is one of the greatest MotoGP riders.

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            He’s already proven himself to be one of the greatest, IMO. The notion that somehow only completely analog bikes require more rider skill to play at the top is just silly, and that theory can be chewed up and spit out by anyone – even recreational racers and track day enthusiasts – that have ridden both analog and electronic assist.

          • TimC says:

            Right, it proves he is one of the greatest riders.

          • mickey says:

            I think 5 premier class championships and 2 others world championships does

          • VLJ says:

            “Dirck, that doesn’t prove he is one of the greatest MotoGP riders.”

            No, but winning five MotoGP titles in his first six seasons certainly proves he is one of the greatest MotoGP riders.

            What Dirck was attempting to explain to you with his flat-track comment is that Marquez also wins top-level motorcycle races on machinery that offer no electronic aids, which is what you said you need to see.

            Marc has already proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is a great MotoGP rider. You want him to prove to you that he could have also been a great Grand Prix rider, pre-MotoGP, which is now impossible for him to prove to you, isn’t it?

  5. joe b says:

    Same thing happened when another famous racer went from Ducati to Honda, it wont take Lorenzo 6 mo to a year to get a ‘feel for it’.

  6. Curly says:

    Names to remember! Peco Bagnaia and Fabio Quartararo. Bagnaia in his first official test on a GP bike is less than 0.4 off the top time and 19 year old Frenchman Quartararo at just a whisker behind Rossi on the same bike. If you thought last season had close racing just wait til next year. The talent is there and with the rule changes to the electronics the racing should be better than ever.

  7. bmbktmracer says:

    Hello, Takaaki Nakagama!

  8. Superlight says:

    What you didn’t mention was that times were very close for the top ten, suggesting good competition for 2019.

    • RonH says:

      Good competition for second place maybe. MM will make for a boring championship season.

      • Provologna says:

        Me thinks yes, you’re exactly right. The off season is without meaning or significance once MM drops the hammer in the first race. Then the rest of the field gets to study MM’s racing line and technique for most of the season. Yawn.

        Think of the last Champion not named MM. It was Jorge in a season where MM DNF’d several times solely because of a major chassis issue. Think about this: except for that season, since he entered the MotoGP arena MM owns it outright, lock, box, and tackle.

        2019 MotoGP season: “I think I’ve seen this movie before…”

        • Random says:

          And he did it last year mostly on the hard front tire, as the chassis relied on it for hard braking. Now he’s comfortable with the medium front…

        • HM says:

          He won his first title winning 7 races to Lorenzo’s 8 and mainly he won the title because his teamie Dani Pedrosa relegated Lorenzo to third on at least 2 times. Yes I remember it well and it wasn’t really that long ago.Go ahead and look for yourself !

          • Craig Brooks says:

            True numbers, but the big pic… his first year he won the title. Crap that is strong. He’s raised the game of everyone around him in the process. That is what has made racing so good lately and the young guns coming in are already somewhat in hunt… no more 3 seconds off during preseaon; unless learning to ride the KTM currently.

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